A witty toast to C. S. Lewis in the form of a spry follow-up to that epistolary classic, The Screwtape Letters. First-novelist Griffin, one-time editor and biographer of Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis, 1986; not reviewed) here steps forward with a buoyant tribute to the master that is worthy of the The Screwtape tradition. In The Screwtape Letters, a senior devil counsels a young malevolent charge, Wormwood, on the art of temptation, and, through several layers of irony and inversion, Lewis advances a coherent vocabulary of Christian theology. In this fine epistolary sequel, Griffin has his younger devil, Fleetwood, taking an older and now rotting mentor-uncle to task for not living up to the challenges of the modern world. To prove his point, Fleetwood targets a young woman recently arrived in Manhattan to make her way in the business world. Fleetwood's course of trials for his young "temptand" is intended to both win over a soul and highlight his skills in spiritual combat. Addressing his one-time mentor variously as "Most fetid Uncle," "Most scabrous Uncle," "Most crapulous Uncle," etc., Fleetwood gleefully points out the substandard methods advanced by his uncle back in temptation school, muses intelligently on theological fashions, and promises a victory for the Infernal Prince on the spiritually arid field of Manhattan. Throughout, Griffin satirizes laissez-faire theology, takes a few swipes at sectarian rivalry, and keeps the project rolling with wit and good humor. A superb hat's off to Lewis—and likely to rekindle a little life into Wormwood himself.
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